The International Youth Development Study (IYDS) has been underway for more than a decade, exploring whether cultural differences between the United States and Australia impact on youth development.
The study has recently garnered funding from the US and Australian governments to investigate what influences young people to use alcohol, marijuana and tobacco and look at the short and long-term consequences of the substance use.
About 6000 children randomly selected from public and private schools in Victoria and Washington State have been surveyed on a regular basis since 2002, including into young adulthood.
The children, aged 10, 12 and 14 when they were first recruited, have been asked about their social lives, feelings and experiences in relation to school, drugs and alcohol.
The study also looked at school drug policies and consequences for students who break the rules.
Parents, teachers and principals were also surveyed.
Researchers, including from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, ultimately want to develop ways to better support students’ and teachers’ health based on the evidence from the study.
The research also aims to highlight factors early in life that influence behaviour and experiences in young adulthood.
In particular, it explored how families, schools, communities and peer groups influenced young people's behaviour in terms of school performance, mental health and substance use.
The study will also look at whether young people in Victoria and Washington State report similar healthy and problem behaviours.